Lousy finish can’t ruin a fine day in Athens

From left: Baylie, Dayna and Mark Symms at Saturday's game. (Photo by Bill King)

From left: Baylie, Dayna and Mark Symms at Saturday's game. (Photo by Bill King)

Saturday proved to be an enjoyable and memorable day in the Classic City, despite the results of the game.

It started out at one of the Bulldog Nation’s favorite hamburger joints, Allen’s, where my daughter and I joined my two brothers for lunch. While we were there, Sonny Seiler came in, fresh from the memorial service for Uga VII at the stadium, and joined his family at the table next to ours.

When we were getting ready to leave, I went over to speak to him and thanked him for sharing his dogs with us for these many years. “You’re so kind,” he said, shaking my hand. “It’s been a pleasure.”

My daughter noted that I’d run into Vince Dooley at last week’s basketball game and now Sonny Seiler. “Which celebrity will you run into next?” I laughed and told her I was hoping for Herschel!

Saturday afternoon, we killed time at the Tate Center, a wonderful place to hang out before a game, watching most of the exciting Ole Miss-LSU battle on the big screen in the movie theater. (Most Georgia and Kentucky fans seemed to be rooting for the Rebels.)

Then I blazed a new trail in my four-plus decades of attending games at Sanford Stadium by making my way up to one of the suites in the South Tower sky box.

It was my first time up there, though, I’d heard from friends and one of my brothers what watching a game from a sky box was like. The attendants couldn’t have been more welcoming and helpful, and the perks were admittedly very nice, with a lavish buffet offering chicken wings, fruit, deserts and snacks; hard and soft drinks available from the bar; and a barbecue dinner served in the suite.

The seating varied from theater-style seats down front to stools at a bar and armchairs and a couch in back. Being primarily interested in what was going to happen on the field, I took a seat down front, right up against the big window.

The view from up high was kind of cool, too. I could see that most of the crowd chose to wear black to honor Uga VII, and all that black paired with the red shakers was quite striking. (I also could see that there were quite a few no-shows for the game in the second and third levels of the North stands as well as in the west end zone. I think the late kickoff was a factor there, as well as a disappointing season.)

But as nice as it was in the suite, as a football fan the viewing experience wasn’t real satisfying. The glass-enclosed front of the suite muffled the sounds of the band, crowd and stadium announcer Brook Whitmire, which took away a lot of the atmosphere, and all the chatter in the suite made it difficult to make out Scott Howard and Eric Zeier’s broadcast, which was piped in. There were TV monitors, but the big screen down in the stadium still provided a better view of replays.

The best thing about spending Saturday evening in the sky box, though, was sharing the experience with Junkyard Blawg ultimate fan contest winner Baylie Symms, her dad Mark (known on the Blawg as “Cuz”) and her sister Dayna.

The Symms hail from Augusta (no surprise; it seems like the nicest people I encounter at games are from Augusta), where 13-year-old Baylie is an eighth-grader at Tutt Middle School. Her dad told me that Baylie winning the contest made the radio news in their hometown and she was to be featured today on her school’s morning TV program.

Baylie’s had a hard life because she has a rare condition called KT syndrome and has had to have multiple surgeries at the Mayo Clinic. I was concerned whether she’d have trouble negotiating her way to the elevator leading up to the sky box, and Cuz confirmed that Sanford Stadium is not very handicapped-friendly, as they discovered when they first joined many other fans laying flowers in front of the Uga mascots’ resting place before coming up to the South Tower.

But they made it before kickoff and Baylie seemed to enjoy the entire evening. I brought along a copy of the new book “For the Love of the Bulldogs” for her and I was truly impressed with how much of a fan she really is. She also loves The Beatles, so we’re talking one sharp kid. I also enjoyed talking Georgia football with her dad. As longtime readers of the Blawg know, he’s funny, smart and loves them Dawgs, too.

Cuz told me on Sunday: “We all had a wonderful time” aside from the final score. The outing to the game was rough on Baylie physically, he said, but “emotionally this was one of her greatest days ever.”

Her dad put it all in perspective when he noted that Baylie “is an inspiration to me and everyone with whom she comes into contact. … You and your readers gave her something that no one can ever take away. In a life of surgeries and pain, she was Queen for a Day.”

And, he added, no loss on the field could make the day any less special for Baylie. “It dang sure puts a football season in perspective for me,” he said.

You and me both, Cuz.

Thanks, Baylie, for making what otherwise could have been a downer of a game into an unforgettable evening.

84 comments Add your comment

Jaxdawg

November 23rd, 2009
4:02 pm

Cuz,

Glad to see you and your family were able to enjoy and share such a great weekend in Athens. You and your family certainly deserve it! Please know you and your family will continue to be in my thoughts and prayers. As we approach the holidays just want you to know I hope you and your family have a great time this season and may God continue to bless your family!

gtechsta

November 23rd, 2009
4:05 pm

Very nice story here. Puts things in perspective during the holiday season. Glad your family had a good day, Cuz. Good looking family….despite the red/black clothing!

Go Jackets!

Cuz

November 23rd, 2009
4:10 pm

zoo, it was not a clip on. It took me awhile to remember how to tie the darn thing.

45ACP

November 23rd, 2009
4:14 pm

Cuz – The article says “hard and soft drinks available from the bar”.
Did you and Bill throw back a cold beer or two at the stadium?

Gatorzone

November 23rd, 2009
4:18 pm

Geoff, I know i sound like a homer, but I really believe there will not be a major drop off. Brantley is a pure passer that is very accurate. The only other major contributor on offense is Riley cooper that is graduating. Brandon James graduates,but he is more of a special teams guy. We will lose all 3 linebackers and probably Joe Haden in the secondary, but other than that most of the contributors are underclassmen. I think the outlook is bright for next year as well.

Fools Gold

November 23rd, 2009
4:30 pm

UGA’s fixing to fall?
But speaking just for me
and some people from Athens ya see,
we got a thing or two to tell you all.
This Dawg may have stumbled
but he ain’t never fell.
And if the Techies don’t believe that
they can all go straight to hell.
We’re gonna put UGA’s feet back
on the path of a Winning streak
and then God bless UGA nation again.

And you never did think that it ever would happen again.
In Georgia, did you?
You never did think that we’d ever get together again.
Well we damn sure fooled you.
We’re walking real proud and we’re talking real loud again
In UGA Nation.
You never did think that it ever would happen again.
NOW WE MAY HAVE DONE A LITTLE BIT OF FIGHTING AMONGST OURSELVES,
BUT YOU OUTSIDE PEOPLE BEST LEAVE US ALONE.
Cause we’ll all stick together
and you can take that to the bank.
That’s the Gators and the Jackets and the rebels and the yanks.
You just go and lay your head on a Georgia BULLDAWG fan
and I think you’re gonna finally understand.

And you never did think that it ever would happen again.
In Georgia, did you?
You never did think that we’d ever get together again.
Well we damn sure fooled you.
We’re walking real proud and we’re talking real loud again
In UGA Nation.
You never did think that it ever would happen again.

Thank you Charlie!

45ACP

November 23rd, 2009
4:33 pm

The Gators are doing something right.
A chance for 3 MNC’s in 4 years says it all.
Whether it’s coaching or re-loading they have a great system.

45ACP

November 23rd, 2009
4:35 pm

Rock on Charlie! Play that Fiddle boy!

Cuz

November 23rd, 2009
4:36 pm

45, Bill did not have a beer at the stadium.

Fools Gold

November 23rd, 2009
4:36 pm

reckon we can rap to those lyrics or maybe a little Hip Hop?

Cuz

November 23rd, 2009
4:39 pm

“Lay your hand” Fools Gold, lay your head gives an entirely different connotation.

Fools Gold

November 23rd, 2009
4:44 pm

Damn Cuz ……..thats what happened on the copy and paste Yeah it should be hand! LOL

Fools Gold

November 23rd, 2009
4:47 pm

REVISED……..

UGA’s fixing to fall?
But speaking just for me
and some people from the AJC,
we got a thing or two to tell you all.
This Dawg may have stumbled
but he ain’t never fell.
And if the Techies don’t believe that
they can all go straight to hell.
We’re gonna put UGA’s feet back
on the path of a Winning streak
and then God bless UGA nation again.

And you never did think that it ever would happen again.
In Georgia, did you?
You never did think that we’d ever get together again.
Well we damn sure fooled you.
We’re walking real proud and we’re talking real loud again
In UGA Nation.
You never did think that it ever would happen again.
NOW WE MAY HAVE DONE A LITTLE BIT OF FIGHTING AMONGST OURSELVES,
BUT YOU OUTSIDE PEOPLE BEST LEAVE US ALONE.
Cause we’ll all stick together
and you can take that to the bank.
That’s the Gators and the Jackets and the rebels and the yanks.
You just go and lay your hand on a Georgia BULLDAWG fan
and I think you’re gonna finally understand.

And you never did think that it ever would happen again.
In Georgia, did you?
You never did think that we’d ever get together again.
Well we damn sure fooled you.
We’re walking real proud and we’re talking real loud again
In UGA Nation.
You never did think that it ever would happen again.

Thank you Charlie!

45ACP

November 23rd, 2009
5:01 pm

Fools Gold – Rev: B should sell a million copies.

Recruitman Ron

November 23rd, 2009
5:10 pm

A couple of Gator names to look out for in the future.

2009 Class – Jelani Jenkins OLB – #9 ESPN150, Andre Debose WR – #17 ESPN150, Gary Brown DT – #23 ESPN150, Xavier Nixon OT – #50 ESPN150, Nick Alajajian OG – #60 ESPN150, Jon Bostic OLB – #108 ESPN150, Mike Gillislee RB – #129 ESPN150, Jordan Reed QB – #141 ESPN150, etc…

2010 Class – Jonathan Dowling S – #8 ESPN150, Demar Dorsey S – #11 ESPN150, Matt Elam ATH – #13 ESPN150, Mack Brown RB – #17 ESPN 150, Ian Silberman OT – #22 ESPN150, Gerald Christian TE – #32 ESPN150, Joshua Shaw CB – #33 ESPN150, Jaylen Watkins CB – #48 ESPN150, Leon Orr DT – #68 ESPN150, Soloman Patton WR – #71 ESPN150, Jordan Haden(Joe’s brother) S – 4 Star, Trey Burton ATH – 4 Star, etc……… More on the way soon.

gdawginkalamazoo

November 23rd, 2009
5:21 pm

Since this column is about great bulldog fans like cuz and his family I just thought I would throw Buck’s name out there since Stafford lit up Detroit yesterday. I know Buck would have been proud. Stafford played one hell of a game. Brought the Lions back then took a 1:37 plus one play to put them in the win column. Sure it was against Cleveland but it was an entertaining game to watch. Old CJ took it to the house too.

dawggirl

November 23rd, 2009
5:25 pm

Cuz, beautiful picture of your family. Baylie is an inspiration to us all. I wish you and her all the blessings in the world. UGA is lucky to have fans like her.

Cuz

November 23rd, 2009
5:27 pm

zoo, I still have Buck’s e-mail address saved on my computer. Hard to belive it has been three years since he joined Erk Russell on the bench. He never even saw Uga VII.

shane#1

November 23rd, 2009
5:27 pm

Cuz, Glad ya’ll had a great time. Winning games is great, bowls are great, records are great. So are championships. Just don’t forget to have fun guys. Football is a game! Take a cue from Baylie and enjoy CFB, win or lose.

DamnGoodDawg

November 23rd, 2009
7:33 pm

Wheow…..That’s great! God bless you and your family, Cuz!

Delbert D.

November 23rd, 2009
8:04 pm

Thanks for a great article, Bill. Best to Baylie and Dayna, Cuz.

ATL AU ALUM

November 23rd, 2009
8:07 pm

Cuz –
You can’t imagine how pleased we are as fans that the day was an enjoyable one for Baylie – and, of course, you and Dayna as well… You two should be especially gratefull that Baylie allowed y’all to witness her being “Queen for a Day”! :)
May God bless you all — Our thoughts and prayers are always with you…

Cuz

November 23rd, 2009
8:11 pm

Delbert, thanks for the comment. Lets just have a clean game with no late hits or injuries and let the chips fall where they may. I hope Baylie lets me blog some during the game. Yep, that is the way it is around this house. I may make most all the rules, but when it comes to paying attention to my children, they get to make those rules. I quit two jobs because I was out of town when they both needed me most. First Dayna, then Baylie. And I have no regrets. Because of that, I have two wonderful children.

Cuz

November 23rd, 2009
8:16 pm

ATL ALUM. I am just glad Baylie needed a driver. Halloween when she was six she dressed as a princess. I dressed as a Limo driver and drove her to the houses in my black Caddy. It was awesome. Yes I have that picture.

macrotech

November 23rd, 2009
8:53 pm

Cuz, Baylie’s ‘Fan of the Week’ almost made me a dawg fan….ALMOST! Win or lose this weekend…I’m a Baylie fan and continue to pray for you and yours! May the best team win this week! GO BAYLIE!!!

Dawgs ????

November 23rd, 2009
9:03 pm

Go Baylie ! Her story makes football seem so small and insignificant. Best of luck to you…

Cuz

November 23rd, 2009
9:06 pm

macrotech, this is our game to be at odds. And this is how it should be. I would never ask you to quit being a Tech fan as you would not do the same of me, oh yeah I am a Tech fan and a UGA grad. Well my middle name is Herschel. But i digress. I am just glad you are a Baylie fan. I know I am.

Cuz

November 23rd, 2009
9:19 pm

Another Baylie story from this year. In September, Darius Rucker the new country star and lead singer of Hootie and the Blowfish came to Augusta for a show. Baylie’s Mom drove Darius to play golf that day. No not the Augusta National. He has played there and his best score is a 79, I think he said 79. Baylie’s Mom, hereafter referred to as Janice, told Darius about her daughter Baylie. Darius said he wanted to meet Baylie. Janice called me, and Baylie and I went to the venue to meet Darius. We got there and were brought into the Green Room. Darius made all the Augusta high and mighty wait while he spent five minutes alone with Baylie, Janice and me. Darius is a great guy besides being a great singer. He also made Baylie feel on top of the world. I see this every day when Baylie comes into contact with others. She has this amazing ability to inspire and make friends with every one she meets. Don’t take my word for it, ask Darius or Bill.

Short Form

November 23rd, 2009
10:09 pm

Those of us who know her could tell good Baylie stories all day, but, to me, the best story is what a regular kid and good person she is. I think her dad has had something to do with that, but, mostly I think it’s just Baylie, doing it on her own, just living her life, and doing a good job of it.

Since it’s Thanksgiving week I’d like to mention how thankful I am to have this nice story put into perspective the game of football. Sometimes I think football, well, Georgia football at least, is a lot more important than it really is, and, sometimes stories like this remind me of what’s really important in life – family, friends, enjoying the simple things in life, doing one’s best to be a competent person, making the best of what one has. These are all things Baylie’s good at, just like she’s a most excellent Georgia Football Fan.

Have a great Thanksgiving, Baylie.

Go, Dawgs!

macrotech

November 23rd, 2009
10:35 pm

Cuz, I concur with EVERYTHING you stated….with the exception of asking you to be a Tech fan….we’d be honored to have ya! Bring Baylie with ya!!! You are correct about this being our weekend of being at odds….shall be a fun game to watch! Maybe I’ll run into ya’ll while I’m visiting my family for Thankgiving…gotta love the Garden City!!! You guys have a GREAT Thanksgiving….or, as a preacher once shared, “A Great ThanksLIVING!!!” Blessings!

student

November 24th, 2009
1:06 am

The empty end zone and the section in the upper level were due to the awful student ticketing policy and thanksgiving break. Students can’t sell their unused tickets, so if they were headed home early, nobody got to sit there.

J Dub

November 24th, 2009
9:40 am

Cuz, I am a little late to the blog party today but I wanted to let you know also that your family will be in my prayers and tell Baylie to keep pulling for those Dawgs. I too have a daughter named Bailey, named after Champ and Boss coincidentally, and she loves to pull for UGA. Your family is truly an inspiration! God Bless!

ATL AU ALUM

November 24th, 2009
10:01 am

Short Form –
Extremely well stated! Let’s hope everyone feels as you do.

techfan

November 25th, 2009
4:18 pm

The football is cyclical, Ga. will be back, this is what college football is supposed to be, thanks for the story. Go Jackets